Hi. I hope that you're having a wonderful holiday season. My blog has moved to Culture Tantrum, so please feel free to visit me there.
Hi. I hope that you're having a wonderful holiday season. My blog has moved to Culture Tantrum, so please feel free to visit me there.
“This is not just about ghost stories,” said our tour guide and author/historian/teacher/ghost whisperer Doreen Uhas-Sauer. “This is a social history of Town Street.”
Doreen has given historic tours of Columbus for the past 35 years. She knows everything. Our all-ages group of about 30 met at the Topiary Park. Armed with lanterns and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, we walked half a block east and more than a century back in time, when the Town-Franklin area was the city’s first real suburb.
I have one of those keys.
I was a member of Kappa at Washington and Lee. Naturally, this made me feel twice as likely to see a ghost than anyone else on the tour. We wandered through the parlor into an ornate sitting room with dramatic Victorian furnishings and an 1887 Weber piano. Kappa’s archivist and curator Kylie Smith told colorful tales about the spirits who loom at the property. The first was David Gray.
I saw him in concert.
Ok, it was a different David Gray. BUT STILL. I was practically guaranteed to see a ghost at this point. We learned about the art of bird taxidermy, which young women practiced back then instead of pinning cat photos on Pinterest or Instagramming their meatloaf. They also created wreaths out of their hair. Kind of makes my no-sew fleece blankets seem lame.
We paused to admire a portrait of Celinda Hatton, who taught art at Columbus School for Girls. She died in the home’s morning room. Her favorite color was pink, and many have reported visions of a “Pink Lady” floating through the hallways.
I went to CSG! The coincidences, however far-fetched, were becoming overwhelming. Bring it on, Pinkie.
Next at the Kelton House, we learned of haunted dolls and tragic accidents. We tiptoed through the alley past a haunted house to the Columbus Performing Arts Center (formerly Players Theatre), where Doreen told us about mischievous 1902 Halloween rituals involving stolen corn and door-stopping cabbage.
I have dolls. I eat corn. This is crazy. Show me the ghost!
Alas, I didn’t see any apparitions, but I went home very informed and enjoyably spooked. If you’d like to try engaging with the afterlife, Columbus Landmarks still has a few ghost tours between now and November 2.
I recently launched Gluten-Free Ohio, a website and resource geared toward Ohioans following the gluten-free lifestyle. The site will offer free recipes, tips, and information for people who have eliminated or reduced gluten from their diets. Most of the featured breakfast, entrée, snack, dessert, and side dish recipes will contain natural, minimally processed ingredients and no refined sugars.
I became gluten-free in August of 2013, after being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. The gluten-free movement is gaining a lot of attention. Nearly 18 million Americans are believed to have gluten sensitivities1. An estimated 3 million Americans have celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder in the digestive system) but 97% of those who have it aren’t diagnosed2. Thirty percent of adults find gluten-free food appealing3, and the gluten-free category is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 20174.
After becoming gluten-free, I was afraid that I’d never enjoy food again. I’m now cooking the best meals of my life and have really evolved in the kitchen. It’s an adventure.
I decided to launch Gluten-Free Ohio after being really inspired by gluten-free cookbooks, products, and networks. I hope to expand the site to include local contributing writers and feature stories. Anyone who is interested in contributing to Gluten-Free Ohio should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t know much about comics, but I enjoy reading them and am inspired by the local creators who work hard to build a strong scene. When I heard there was a panel called “A Voltron That Has Yet to Assemble: The Columbus Comics Scene Past, Present, and Future” at CCAD’s Mix comics symposium, I had to attend.
Moderated by James Moore (2-Headed Monster Comics), the panel included Bob Corby (S.P.A.C.E.), Ken Eppstein (Nix Comics), Jenny Robb (Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum), and Jeffrey Stang (The Laughing Ogre). Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Reporter) was the featured guest. As I typed notes, the guy next to me and the lady in front of me doodled cartoons of the panelists.
Spurgeon, the lone panelist not living in Ohio, offered a refreshing perspective.
“Columbus has all of the earmarks of a classic emerging comics scene,” he said. “It was always this terrifying weird city that people talked about but no one knew about, sort of like the South Carolina of cities.”
He referenced our nationally known comic shops and matter-of-fact cosmopolitanism (Ha! He knows us.) Thanks to our large volume of students and institutional support, he thinks Columbus is a “potential juggernaut” in the comics world.
“The Midwest has real audiences of arts enthusiasts,” he said. “And it’s actually kind of a nice place to live.”
Spurgeon established himself in Seattle, where he encountered “a mix of angry old people and angry young people.” He name-dropped a bunch of people he worked with that I’d never heard of. And Gary Larson1.
“Do Columbus comics feel a close connection with one another?” Spurgeon asked. Moore responded that most of them feel a real sense of community. They frequently hang out and share meals together.
“One thing that we all have in common is music as a topic,” Moore said. “A lot of local comics are about musicians.”
Eppstein, who actually molded his business plan after those of local indie bands, aims to publish a monthly cartoon newspaper.
“Columbus is one of the best cross-sections of American culture,” he said. “If you can come here and build an audience, that audience will follow you to other cities.”
When the OSU Cartoon Museum reopens in November, Robb hopes to better serve local comic creators. She’d also like to start a graphic novel book club. In her eyes, when it comes to the future of Columbus comics, “the sky is the limit.”
1 Okay. I vowed not to be That Girl who ran up to him afterward, babbling about how I wrote my college entrance essay about Larson and that two huge compendiums of Larson’s work live in my kitchen. But I thought about it.
They say in order to truly observe something, you must use as many of your senses as possible. When entering the full-size Lustron home inside of the Ohio History Center, I felt like Marty McFly reemerging in the 1955 version of Hill Valley. I listened to the vintage TV set barking in the living room and ran my fingers along the smooth steel walls, where pictures were hung with magnets (not nails). I opened cupboards and sat down at the dinner table. I held a brush from the master bedroom vanity table and played with toys in the children’s room. Other than the iPhone in my pocket, there were no indicators of 2013. Ten dollars (nine for AAA members) really isn’t much to pay for a chance to go back in time.
The Lustron installation is part of 1950’s: Building the American Dream, which explores 50’s life as told through a Central Ohio family. In addition to offering the thrill of time travel, the exhibit uncovers the fascinating era of prefabricated porcelain-enameled steel homes.
During the post-World War II housing boom, the Columbus-based Lustron Corporation was expected to be the world’s biggest churner outer of homes-in-a-box. The million-square-foot production plant was located on East 5th Avenue near the airport. With six miles of conveyor belts, it used more electricity than the whole city. Before Lustron, the site manufactured World War II fighter planes for the Navy. Now it’s a shipping hub for DSW.
More than 20,000 orders for Lustron homes were placed, but only 2,500 were built before the company declared bankruptcy in 1950. The 2002 documentary film Lustron: The House America’s Been Waiting For explores Lustron’s passionate but brief dance with success. It’s estimated that 1,500 Lustron homes still survive in the United States, 200 of which are in Ohio.
The Ohio History Center will host 1950’s Family Weekends with special hands-on activities and programs related to the exhibit on September 28-29, October 26-27, November 23-24, and December 28-29. Get your flux capacitors ready.
The Johnstone Fund for New Music, in partnership with Sunday at Central and Short North Stage, recently joined forces to create “New Music Salon at Short North Stage,” a free contemporary classical music series at the Garden Theater in the Short North.
For the opening performance on October 23 at 7:30 p.m., violinist David Niwa (Artistic Director, Sunday at Central); violinist Olev Viro @Columbus Symphony); violist Ken Matsuda (Columbus Symphony); violist Belinda Reuning Burge (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra); cellist Luis Biava (Columbus Symphony); and cellist Michael Carrera (Professor of Cello, Ohio University) will perform Arnold Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night (Verklärte Nacht, 1899). The musicians also will perform Pulitzer-Prize-winning American composer Charles Wuorinen’s String Sextet (1989).
“As we look into the uncertainty of a new century, these two great 20th century works for string sextet show how connected we are to the past,” said Zoe Johnstone, co-founder of the Johnstone Fund for New Music.
The October 23 concert coincides with Short North Stage’s production of the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine Pulitzer-Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George, which is based on Georges Seurat’s painting “Sunday on the Island of the Grande Jatte.” Both Transfigured Night and “Sunday on the Island of the Grande Jatte” were completed at the end of the 19th century as romanticism in the arts gave way to the modern era.
“The Garden Theater was built in 1920 specifically for live music performance,” said Short North Stage board president Peter Yockel. “These concerts help bring the theater back to its original purpose.”
The series continues in 2014 with free concerts on February 19 and June 4.
Nothing on this earth rivals Ohio sweet corn. If you’re lucky enough to find your hands on a cob in late August, you devour. You devour and give thanks. The 67th annual Millersport Sweet Corn Festival, which kicked off last night, is really the best way to enjoy this final symphony of summer. Presented by the Millersport Lions Club, the four-day fest offers amusement rides, gaming booths, concessions (like Taco in a Bag and Chicken on a Stick), pageants, tractor pulls, corn eating contests, country crafts, bingo, and an outhouse race.
The main event, of course, is corn on the cob. Thousands of crisp and savory cobs adorned with sinful amounts of butter and salt. To enjoy them, you don’t sit down. You stand at one of the long communal tables munching and dribbling to your heart’s content. Where’s your bucket list?
All proceeds from the festival benefit more than 80 nonprofit organizations in eight Ohio counties. Click here for photos of last night’s parade.
The sixth annual Independents’ Day takes place on September 20-22 at Gay Street and Pearl Alley in downtown Columbus. The free all-ages festival features local bands, artists, crafters, filmmakers, comedy acts, fashion designers, food trucks, emerging chefs, brewers, and distillers.
More than 40 local bands will perform on four stages, including Lydia Loveless, Fields and Planes, Connections, The Whiles, The Regrettes, Cadaver Dogs, Way Yes, Nick Tolford & Company, Karate Coyote, Cliffs, Bummers, Sleep Fleet, Indigo Wild, The Girls!, Washington Beach Bums, and an appearance by New Bomb Turks.
September 20: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in Pearl Alley
Nina West will emcee the kickoff celebration, which includes live music by Forest & the Evergreens and Tin Armor, food trucks, and craft vendors.
September 21: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Gay Street and in Pearl Alley
Crafts: Local crafters, including Columbus Crafty Cotillion, will showcase wares. Columbus Craftacular will host a Make N’ Take booth.
Food Trucks/Carts: Mikey’s Late Night Slice and Pattycake Bakery will be on hand, as well as newcomers The Coop, Ajumama, Explorers Club, Mashita Noodles, Tatoheads, Paddy Wagon, Freedom a la Cart, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and J-Pops.
Up-and-Coming Eats: Emerging chefs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and ambitious home cooks will share free samples.
Beverages: Local brewers and distillers will pour spirits, beer, and mead.
Film: Selections from the Film Festival of Columbus (FFOCOL) will be screened. The Residence Inn will host entries from the Wexner Center for the Arts Ohio Shorts competition, as well as a series of short films by Central Ohio filmmakers.
Fashion: Local fashion designers will host a collaborative fashion show and T-shirt Remodel workshops.
Records and Comic Books: An array of vinyl from local record stores and works from local comic book writers and artists will be available.
Chalk Art: As a preview to Chalk the Block at Easton, local artists will create chalk art alongside the festivities.
Sunday, September 22: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Pearl Alley
The Hills Market and Due Amici will host Brunch and Bloody Marys, followed by urban bobsled cart racing and live acoustic music.
“Expanding this festival to three days is beyond thrilling,” said Independents’ Day captain Alexis Perrone. “Each day was thoughtfully crafted so that people can experience the best of what independent outlets in Columbus have to offer.”
Local designer and pop art aficionado John Buckley created this year’s troubadour-themed festival artwork, signage, posters, and T-shirts.
Sign up for volunteer shifts here.
Zanesville is a special place. It has vast history, heartland charisma, and a deep sense of community. In the six years I’ve been visiting my husband’s hometown, I’ve felt the white-hot hum of a cultural revolution. The area once known as “Clay City” and “Pottery Capital of the World” is now drawing attention for its burgeoning art scene. Passionate and tireless downtown artists have been opening their hearts and their studios on the first Friday night of each month in an effort to jolt the creative pulse of the city.
Now in its 10th year, the First Friday Art Walk represents more than 300 artists. It was founded by the Artist Colony of Zanesville (Art COZ), a visionary organization responsible for launching this growing movement. The Artist Collective is a vibrant micro-community of artists that will be the featured studio at tomorrow night’s First Friday. Artists Carrie “Butterfly” Turner, Natasha Oliver, and Joleen Kinsel opened the collective last May on the fifth floor of the historic Masonic Temple.
“Our goal is to share unique art with people in Zanesville and expose them to new concepts,” Carrie said. “Everyone in our space loves sharing ideas and creating art together.”
Carrie hosts monthly art classes at her studio. She quit her job in February to pursue her dream of being a full-time artist.
“I always encourage people to follow their dreams and go after what they want, so I better be willing to put myself out there and lead by example,” she said. “Art is a way to escape everyday life when needed. It can make a difference, and it’s my objective to show you how.”
The collective, which includes its three founders and eight other artists, specializes in interactive art, community projects, and installation art. It teaches emerging artists how to organize shows and hang pieces. It also knows how to generate some (healthy) controversy. More than 500 people attended its tasteful yet slightly daring Erotic Show last winter.
Tomorrow evening from 5:00 to 8:00, the collective will host a reception to showcase the work of Jessica Bradley, as well as guest artists including Justine Murasky, Holly Murphy, Dede Parker, Jim Parker, Zane Prindle, Jason Smith, Erica Tabet, and Joel Weston. All ages are welcome, and guests are invited to pick up a brush and contribute to the community tree mural.
The fifth annual Y-Bridge Arts Festival also takes place in Zanesville this weekend, with more than 70 visual and performing artists.
“I’d like Zanesville to be an art destination,” said Carrie. “I’d love to see art on every corner.”
Photos of artwork in various studios at the Masonic Temple during July’s First Friday Art Walk.
The next Pecha Kucha Columbus event takes place on August 8 outside of the newly opened studio cooperative Tacocat in Grandview. Atmospheric indie rock band Fever Fever will perform at 7:30 p.m. and presentations begin at 8:30. The suggested donation is $2 per person.
Each speaker will follow the international Pecha Kucha format of showing 20 images and speaking about each image for 20 seconds. Presenters include culinary artist Donte Allen, architect Al Berthold, Jim Coe from WCBE 90.5 FM, Blake Compton of Compton Construction, artist Daric Gill, Jessica Mathews with Cbus Cycle Chic, meditation expert Lori Moffett, Beth Poley of Ohioana Library, Erin Scott from Benefactor Group, and physician Randy Sharma. Adam Brouillette will emcee. Pecha Kucha is about sharing passion and creativity, and is not a forum for sales pitches, commercial presentations, or self-promotional material. Presenters are subject to change.
Food trucks will sell refreshments, as organized by Food Fort Columbus. Guests should bring folding chairs. Free parking is available in most surrounding lots. Carpooling and bicycling are encouraged. In case of severe thunderstorms, a rain date has been scheduled for August 15. Updates will be posted on the Pecha Kucha Columbus Facebook and Twitter pages.
There are three shelves of My Little Ponies in my (pink) office. With accessories. Right by the box of Strawberry Shortcake Colorforms and unicorn coloring book, near my Smurf glass. I don’t necessarily broadcast this behavior, but after visiting The Art of the Brick at Discovery Times Square, I realized that there’s absolutely no shame in playing forever. The Art of the Brick features the works of Nathan Sawaya and is the world’s largest display of LEGO art. Here are a few of my favorite pieces from the show, which is on display through January 5.
The museum is also hosting a LEGO building contest. Submissions are due by August 19. Now go play.
We all know New York is the city that never sleeps, but it’s more than that. It can morph into any country from around the world at any moment, making it the ultimate shape shifter. I recently asked New York to become Spain, as Spanish culture is my catnip. Last weekend, I went to a flamenco show by Alegrías en la Nacional near the Meatpacking District. Flamenco pulls people on a moody and mysterious journey through love, anger, attraction, and defiance. It ignites something in the deepest part of me.
As I settled into our table (right in front!) and sipped on some (authentic!) sangria, the guitar began strumming and I was a goner. Dancers stomped furiously, their bodies jerking and strutting while their faces glowered and snarled. The intensity was hypnotic. Next time you’re in New York on a Saturday night, please consider supporting Jorge Navarro and his team in this fierce contribution to the flamenco movement. Tickets cost $20.
My next stop was 100 Years of Flamenco in New York at Lincoln Center, which is the only dedicated flamenco exhibit I’ve ever attended. Described as a “love letter” to flamenco in New York, it uncovers the lives of renowned performers through historic photographs, drawings, programs, newspaper articles, sheet music, and costumes. Highlights include a rare video clip of La Macarrona in 1918, photographs of the arresting Carmen Amaya, and an 1840 Currier & Ives lithograph of Fanny Elssler. 100 Years is presented by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, and is on display until August 3. Admission is free.
Lastly, I visited Back Tomorrow: Federico García Lorca / Poet in New York at the New York Pubic Library. Lorca is considered to be Spain’s greatest modern poet and playwright. I read several of his works when studying for my undergraduate degree in Spanish. A free thinker at a time when liberalism wasn’t publicly embraced in Spain, he was a true trend bucker. He wrote Poet in New York after spending several months there in 1929. This is the first time that the manuscript has ever been on display. The exhibit, produced in collaboration with the Fundación Federico García Lorca, features drawings, photographs, letters, and mementos. Lorca was assassinated in 1936 at the onset of the Spanish Civil War, but his rebellious spirit hovers at the core of Spanish culture. Back Tomorrow is on display until July 20. Admission is free.
I’ll always be grateful to New York for being New York, and for being whatever any of us need it to be.
Until yesterday, I thought that magical forests existed only in fairytales. Then I discovered Inniswood Metro Gardens, whose lavish and playful world has made me a believer of supernatural nature.
Part of Columbus Metro Parks, Inniswood serves up 123 acres of horticultural heaven. It belonged to sisters Grace and Mary Innis, who donated the Westerville estate to the city in 1972. Streams, woodlands, wildflowers, wildlife, waterfalls, and 2,000 plant species burst through the grounds like a giant rooted fireworks display. More than 300 members and volunteers help keep the area in optimal condition.
Among Inniswood’s most mystical nooks are the Rose Garden, Woodland Rock Garden, Herb Garden, Fern Garden, Circle Garden, and Conifer Garden. Six walking trails zigzag the premises, with names like Chipmunk Chatter Trail and Frog Talk Walk. The Sisters’ Garden is a children’s garden with a story maze depicting the Native American tale Earth on Turtle’s Back.
Inniswood is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to dark. In an effort to connect people with nature, it offers nature education programs, where you can learn about everything from bluebirds and dragonflies to drying flowers and growing micro greens. It also hosts special events including concerts, yoga classes, and tai chi sessions.
If you’re seeking a place to hide out, rest up, and rekindle some childlike wonder, this is it.
These free movie nights are held on a 30-foot screen at the park’s softball diamond. Each film starts at sundown and is preceded by costume and trivia contests with prizes from local businesses. Back to the Future will be emceed by Tim Fulton, and Nina West will emcee Mean Girls and Despicable Me.
A variety of food trucks and carts will sell refreshments, including Green Meanie Food Truck, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Pattycake Bakery, Short North Bagel Deli, and Swoop! Food Truck. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs, and flashlights. There are no rain dates.
I recently planted my first garden. To me, the world of greenthumbery is a thrilling, endless place of hope and contemplation. I feel so giddy thinking about it that I have to run up and down the stairs to burn energy. It wasn’t always like this. I used to wilt plants just by looking at them, and it baffled me how people wasted their Sundays (and hard earned paychecks) in yards and nursery stores. I’m now officially one of those people. I constantly check out other people’s yards and ask for pointers. I borrow gardening books from the library and have resolved to save my pennies for flowerpots. It’s a lot of work, but nothing is as purely peaceful as a garden.
Ted and Ann Schnormeier have nine of them. On 75 acres. And once a year for a few days in June, they open Schnormeier Gardens to the public for free to share their love of greenery with all who care to experience it. Located at their Frank Llyod Wright-inspired home in Gambier, Ohio, the gardens began in 1996. They draw deep inspiration from Asian culture and feature a Japanese teahouse, Chinese pavilion, bridges, waterfalls, ponds, rock walls, lotus, water lilies, rare conifers, and more than 50 sculptures. This year’s open house ended yesterday.
Some people believe that gardens have souls. I agree.
The 5th annual Goodale Park Music Series kicks off in July with these Columbus performing acts:
July 14: Forest & the Evergreens
July 28: Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons
August 4: The Spikedrivers
August 11: Way Yes
August 18: The DewDroppers
August 25: Eric Nassau and Friends
Rain date: September 1
All shows take place at the Goodale Park gazebo from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. The series is made possible with generous support from theShort North Foundation, Short North Civic Association, Columbus Recreation & Parks, ComFest,Friends of Goodale Park, and Italian Village Society. Click here for photos of past concerts.
Live Art: A rotating group of artists will create live art throughout the series, including Adam Brouillette, Andrew Lundberg, Fresh A.I.R. Gallery, Michael Quinn, Sara Adrian, TRANSIT Arts, and Urban Scrawl.
Vendors: Participating vendors include 2-Headed Monster Comics, Accessorize Your Accessories,alison rose, Badala, Candle with a Cause, HOMAGE, Sweet Simpliciteas, Todd Beistel (The Horror Show), and What The Rock?
Sound Engineering: Above Sound
Check-In Partner: Yelp Columbus
Until recently, I didn’t believe it was possible to hold a letter that George Washington wrote in 1788. Or flip through a 15th-century medieval manuscript. I definitely didn’t think I could do so less than a mile from home. But thanks to a friend, I discovered an endless world of history and possibility at the State Library of Ohio.
The State Library was founded in Columbus in 1817 and provides a dizzying amount of free services for Ohio residents, libraries, and state employees. Located in the historic Jeffrey Manufacturing Building in Italian Village, it offers a statewide resource sharing service to more than 500 libraries. Its catalog contains more than 800,000 items.
“We can impact just about everyone in Ohio,” said Marsha McDevitt-Stredney, the State Library’s Director of Marketing and Communications.
The State Library is the only regional federal repository in Ohio. You can access federal government information for free, including congressional records, executive branch documents, census statistics, house and senate journals, topographical maps, atlases, and U.S. patents. On the state level, you can explore rosters of Ohio soldiers from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War I; Laws of Ohio from 1803; agricultural reports (including history of Ohio State Fairs); Ohio Supreme Court decisions; and election statistics.
You can also get suggestions from librarians about what to read; access digital audiobooks, eBooks, music, and video; request help with genealogy projects; find jobs and get assistance applying for them; take practice tests and learn workplace skills; foster early childhood literacy; encourage other Ohioans to read; support the works of Ohio writers, artists, and musicians at the Ohioana Library; obtain recorded books, magazines, and playback equipment for blind, visually impaired, physically handicapped, and reading disabled Ohio residents; access a collection of materials related to deafness and American Sign Language; and research thousands of electronic resources and databases.
This place is cool.
As I explored the 98,000 square feet of history heaven, I found highway maps from 1919, vintage atlases, hundred-year-old New York Times microfiche, and 1916 U.S. soil samples. I also saw old FEMA flood insurance maps and an 1896 U.S. Army guide to drill regulations for light artillery.
Without question, one of the highlights is the Rare Book Room. It’s lovingly tended by Shannon Kupfer, who’ll be glad to give you a tour if you make an appointment. Among its 7,000 items are the aforementioned Washington letter and medieval manuscript, the complete works of Martin Luther circa 1539 (in German), and the exquisitely illustrated Birds of America collection.
“So many people don’t know that we even have a State Library,” said Beverly Cain, State Librarian of Ohio. “It's an incredible treasure trove.”
See you in the stacks.
Covert parking spots. The identity of Vinchen. Jeni’s Salty Caramel recipe. Some Short North secrets are best kept hidden. Dames Bond Marketplace shouldn’t be one of them (even if its name is inspired by a certain secret agent). The 1,500-square-foot Garden District boutique opened last October and offers a smashing array of apparel, jewelry, accessories, artwork, candles, body care, and home décor.
“The Marketplace gives women an opportunity to showcase their talent and participate in a retail experience, Mary said. “I did a lot of research, and there’s nothing like it in Ohio or the Midwest.”
When it opened, the Marketplace featured 30 vendors. It now has 43, half of which use Dames Bond as their only brick-and-mortar location. Mary designed and merchandised the space, and the vendors work on consignment. It also serves as a small business incubator, offering vendors monthly workshops about trends and marketing.
“This is all about championing women and giving them an opportunity to create something,” Mary said. “Social norms have stopped us from being our best selves, and I want to break that.”
Two new vendors joined the Marketplace yesterday: Sweet Simpliciteas dessert tea and Dragon Ikka Japanese jewelry and gifts. Upcoming events include a Bella Beads trunk show for tonight’s Gallery Hop; a silversmith demonstration tomorrow by Kristi Ross of KK Makes Things; and mother/daughter make-and-take journals with Thrive Theory on May 11.
Pecha Kucha Columbus will host its next event on the evening of Thursday, May 9 at the Franklinton Development Association warehouse. Doors open at 7:00, Joey Hebdo will perform at 7:30, and presentations start at 8:00. The suggested donation is $2 per person, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The One Fund Boston to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15.
Each speaker will follow the international Pecha Kucha format of showing 20 images and speaking about each image for 20 seconds. Presenters include designer and micro-publisher Binaebi Akah; Appalachian and Pacific Trail hiker Garik Lawson Asplund; Alex Bandar with Columbus Idea Foundry; local farming advocate John Bannon; six-year-old artist and storyteller Soleil Cummings; Nick Gore of GoreMade Pizza; U.S. Navy veteran and IAVA Leadership Fellow Angela King; Ruth Milligan from ar.tic.u.la.tion; Adam Sauer of Cycle Lights; and architect Gary Sebach. Presenters are subject to change. Pecha Kucha is about sharing passion and creativity, and is not a forum for sales pitches, commercial presentations, or self-promotional material. The festivities will be emceed by Bandar and Jim Sweeney of FDA. Scott Vayo will deejay.
Food and beverages will be available for sale by local food trucks, as organized by Food Fort Columbus. The FDA warehouse is located at 421 West State Street. Parking is available on State and in the 400 West Rich lots on Lucas between Rich and Town. Carpooling is encouraged.
Pecha Kucha Night was devised and shared by Klein Dytham architecture. It was founded in Tokyo in 2003 as a way for designers to meet and share their work in public, and has morphed into a massive celebration with events in more than 600 cities around the world. Drawing its name from the Japanese expression for “chitchat,” it rests on a simple and momentum-driven presentation format: 20 images x 20 seconds. Pecha Kucha Columbus was formed by a group of designers and community members in February of 2007. Click here for photos of past Pecha Kucha Columbus events.
Elvis Presley will probably forever be considered the King of Rock and Roll. I mean, the man has almost 99,000 Twitter followers, and he passed away 29 years before Twitter began. An estimated 85,000 people impersonate him. But after learning about the free Elvis photography exhibit at Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery, I was skeptical. Rhinestone-studded visions of fist pumps and girdled velvet filled my head. Haven’t we seen all of Elvis there is to see? I headed to Bexley anyway, and was treated to a raw glimpse of the man before the pelvis.
Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer contains 56 photographs (most of them 36x48 pigment prints) that were taken during one week in 1956. Wertheimer was a 26-year-old freelance photographer from Brooklyn who had never heard of Elvis, and Elvis could still sit alone at a drugstore counter without getting mobbed. The black-and-white images were shot in close range, and rarely used flash. As evocative as the photos were the anecdotes pinned alongside them.
“I guess he felt that someone should be photographing him because one of these days he was going to be famous,” Wertheimer said. “People asked me later on, ‘What was so different about Elvis?’ I didn’t know at the time, but I would soon understand that first of all, he made the girls cry and second, he permitted closeness.”
Elvis was a hopeless flirt and a wicked dazzler — but he was talented and fearless. This show made me realize that, in spite of all the executives ordering him how to be a star, he defied them and became an icon.
Elvis at 21 was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service with support from The History Channel. It debuted at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles on January 8, 2010 (Elvis’ 75th birthday) and has been touring throughout the country. The exhibit will be on display at Schumacher Gallery until April 27.
When hearing the word “bourbon,” you may think of mahogany leather sofas, wrap-around front porches, or J.R. Ewing. Dave Rigo of Watershed Distillery stares at his oak bourbon barrels and ponders something considerably less nostalgic: his 401(k). Since co-founding Watershed in 2010, his “kinda crazy idea” of making spirits in Columbus has exploded into an intoxicating force. With the Kentucky Derby less than two months away, I had bourbon on the brain and toured Watershed to learn more about the process of microdistilling.
“We make vodka and gin to support our bourbon habit,” Rigo said.
Rigo and his partner Greg Lehman didn’t fall into microdistilling immediately. The Watershed concept was actually the duo’s 20th business plan, after being informed by their attorney that their first 19 ideas “sucked.” After lots of passionate research and some out-of-state apprenticeships, they got started in a 2,000-square-foot Grandview warehouse. They recently expanded to 4,700 square feet and now produce up to 5,000 bottles a month. Their liquor is available in 150 liquor stores and 500 bars/restaurants in Ohio, as well as a handful of outlets in Kentucky and New York. They shipped their first order to Chicago this week.
Watershed produces four spirits: Four Peel Gin, Bourbon Barrel Gin, Vodka, and Bourbon. Gin is their signature item, which has been referred to as “The Gateway Gin” for its mild disposition. Many microdistillers use four or five botanicals when making their gin; Watershed uses eight. Rigo and Lehman also include the lowest possible amount of juniper in their gin (51%), making it more palatable for those who don’t like drinking Christmas trees. Watershed’s vodka is Ohio corn based and has been praised for its clean finish, thanks to the painstaking removal of methanol. As for the beloved bourbon, it’s double distilled and aged for roughly two-and-a-half years using a thoughtful mix of Ohio corn, wheat, rye, and spelt. Rigo is currently tinkering with malted barley for a possible new bourbon flavor and enlisted the expertise of a local molecular biologist to grow a proprietary strain of yeast.
According to The American Distilling Institute, there will be 400-450 boutique distillers in the United States and Canada by the end of 2015. Watershed aims to be one of the best of them. Until then, Rigo will gaze at his wall of 53-gallon bourbon barrels that won’t be ready until a few more years.
“We’re just sitting and watching our future in those barrels,” he laughed.
I’ve been afraid of alligators my whole life. As a child, I had recurring nightmares that an evil, hungry alligator hid behind a tree and chased me around the woods. This could have been a fathomable dream for a kid living in Baton Rouge, but Stamford, Connecticut wasn’t known for its surplus alligator population. Nonetheless, I was terrified, and my father brought home Izod shirts and a giant stuffed pink alligator toy in an effort to soothe my debilitating panic.
“See?” Dad said. “Alligators are friendly! They’re even smiling on your shirts.”
I didn’t buy it, and spent the next three decades shrouded in fear. When I first met my husband’s family many years ago in Ohio, it was at an alligator-themed party. There was an alligator cake and alligator décor, and everyone wore alligator nametags. If you think that paper plates can’t be scary, you are wrong.
It was time for me to wrangle my fear by the tail, so during a recent trip to Naples, Florida, I made the (shockingly brave) decision to (willingly) encounter an alligator. I started at the Naples Botanical Garden. Then I tried Freedom Park, followed by Koreshan State Park. No luck. By the time I got to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, I just wanted to get it over with. As I entered the grounds, my life’s milestones flashed before me. I can leave now, and no one would know. I could drive to Dairy Queen and forget this whole thing ever happened.
Somehow, I sallied forth. I inhaled deeply, trudged into that nature center and approached a Conservancy volunteer.
“I’d like to see an alligator, please,” I squeaked.
And then I found myself peering at one.
Maybe he was 10 inches long and swimming around a cute little tank, but soon he’ll be a six footer lounging in a marsh. I’ll probably wonder if he wants to have me for dinner, and he’ll probably be recovering from nightmares about saucer-eyed humans. Baby steps.
Some things are best kept secret. Colonel Sanders’ recipe. PIN numbers. What’s whispered at the end of Lost in Translation. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at The Ohio State University is one of the biggest secrets in Columbus, but big plans are in the works to make it a place you won’t forget.
The Cartoon Library was founded in 1977, when Ohio State alumnus and famed cartoonist Milton Caniff donated his artwork to the university. It was named after former Columbus Dispatch cartoonist Billy Ireland, who mentored Caniff. With more than 300,000 original cartoons, 50,000 books, and 2.5 million comic strip clippings, it’s the world’s largest academic research facility dedicated to printed cartoon art. In addition to editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and magazine cartoons, it has one of the world’s largest collections of Japanese manga.
This summer, the Cartoon Library will move from its hidden 6,000-square-foot digs behind the Wexner Center for the Arts to a 30,000-square-foot space at Sullivant Hall. The new area will feature three museum-quality galleries for visiting and permanent collections, and will host book tour events, cartooning workshops, and live slide show readings of comics. The Grand Opening Festival is scheduled for November.
There are some amazing exhibits planned for 2014 that you won’t want to miss. Trust me. In the meantime, an exhibit of A.B. Walker’s work opens tomorrow. Walker was a popular early 20th century cartoonist who drew for Life, Harper’s, The Atlantic, The Saturday Evening Post, Judge, and Collier’s. The exhibit runs through April 26 and will be followed by a show of Civil War cartoons. In late May, the Cartoon Library will close for relocation.
The Cartoon Library is free and open to the public, but is a “closed stack” non-circulating institution. While you can’t browse items, you may access anything in the collection by completing simple paperwork and asking staff members for guidance. Researchers from around the globe visit the library to study items in the collection. All artwork is humidity/temperature controlled and stored in acid-free archival materials.
“Tons of famous cartoonists are from Ohio,” McGurk said. “There’s no reason that Columbus shouldn’t be the main comic city in America.”
Renderings courtesy of Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
I can be a tiny bit obsessive. When I like something, I overindulge to the point of delirium. This includes eating the same breakfast for two decades and listening to the same Michael Jackson album 330 times in a row. You live yours, I’ll live mine.
Recently, I discovered a palace of fashion-forward, sensibly priced ready-to-wear known as “Kohl’s.” My father shipped us a surprise mammoth box of red holiday plates, bowls, and trays from this establishment, and a couple of plates arrived broken. I went to the nearest store to exchange them, and that’s when I saw it.
Shining like a beacon of well-groomed cotton, it hung on a corner endcap in the ladies department. Such a masterpiece of elegance and ease I hadn’t encountered. It was the type of good quality item one might expect to find at Nordstrom, or even Saks. It’s comfortable and stylish. The three neckline buttons (no hanging cords!) take it from day to evening to pajamas. The drape is pristine. The pockets are sturdy, the hood is substantial, and the interior piping is well constructed. It’s long enough to be worn over leggings, yet looks sharp with jeans. A humdrum hoodie this is not. I tried one on in coral pink seven days ago and have been wearing it ever since.
I must share The Hoodie with others, I thought.
The first Kohl’s was sold out of my desired color and size combinations, so I went to another one. And a third one. By the time I visited the fourth Central Ohio store, I worried that they were onto me and wouldn’t let me buy any more. As any levelheaded obsessive would do, I devised a strategy whereby I would hide my precious-es in different departments and have my husband stop by after work to get the goods. I delivered such a robust soliloquy about The Hoodie to the nice lady working at cashwrap that she put one on hold for herself. I really feel that every woman should own at least one of these things.
“Retail is detail,” my dad always says. So true.
If you get The Hoodie from me for Christmas, you’ll know I love you. Kohl’s, thanks for helping me help you move some product.
Yesterday I made a (last-minute) decision to hold the Great American Peanut Butter Tasting & Challenge. You see, the hubs is somewhat of a peanut butter sommelier. He knows more about PB than the combined workforces of Jif, Skippy, and Peter Pan. If I got a penny every time he said “Peanut butter is the perfect food,” I’d be typing this from my villa on Lake Como.
The rules of the Great Peanut Butter Tasting & Challenge were simple. I asked friends to do a blind taste testing of five peanut butters and rank them on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being excellent). The challenge was to identify which of the five was organic, and which was the most expensive. All peanut butters sampled were creamy and all-natural, meaning that none of them contained added salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, trans fatty acids, or hydrogenated oils. Two of the five were Ohio made, and the milk I provided as a palate cleanser was locally produced from Snowville Creamery. Each peanut butter was graded on flavor, consistency, oil to butter ratio, aroma, appearance, peanutality1, and jaunt factor2. There were seven tasters, all of whom received gold star stickers for participating. Here are the results.
Whole Foods Grind-Your-Own Natural Peanut Butter
$4.49 (16 oz)
Overall Score: 184
Flavor: 3.6 / Consistency: 3.9 / Oil to Butter Ratio: 4.3 / Aroma: 2.9 / Appearance: 4.1 / Peanutality: 4.3 / Jaunt Factor: 3.4
Comments: “Simple. Fun to eat. Makes my tummy smile.” / “Just right. Oh yeah.” / “Grainy, very sweet. Would be good for baking.”
Giant Eagle Nature’s Basket Organic Peanut Butter
$4.19 (16 oz)
Overall Score: 153
Flavor: 3.3 / Consistency: 3.1 / Oil to Butter Ratio: 2.9 / Aroma: 3.1 / Appearance: 3.4 / Peanutality: 3.4 / Jaunt Factor: 2.4
Comments: “All around very good.”
Trader Joe’s Creamy Unsalted Peanut Butter
$2.79 (16 oz)
Overall Score: 152
Flavor: 2.9 / Consistency: 3.1 / Oil to Butter Ratio: 3 / Aroma: 3.1 / Appearance: 3.6 / Peanutality: 3.7 / Jaunt Factor: 2.3
Comments: “Tasty! Love it.” / “I feel duped. Looks tasty, but it’s actually bland.” / “Slightly metallic. Fairly ugly.”
Krema Natural Creamy Peanut Butter (Made in Columbus, Ohio)
$4.29 (16 oz)
Overall Score: 123
Flavor: 2.6 / Consistency: 3.3 / Oil to Butter Ratio: 2.9 / Aroma: 1.9 / Appearance: 2.7 / Peanutality: 2.6 / Jaunt Factor: 1.9
Comments: “A bit bland.” / "Bland." / “Not a fan. Nice consistency though.” / “Vegetal taste. Least mouth-coaty. Sweet.”
Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter (Made in Orrville, Ohio)
$3.99 (16 oz)
Overall Score: 81
Flavor: 1.4 / Consistency: 1.1 / Oil to Butter Ratio: 1.3 / Aroma: 2 / Appearance: 2.6 / Peanutality: 1.9 / Jaunt Factor: 1.3
Comments: “Oily. Not fun to eat.” / “Clunky, gooey, hard to mix. Sloppy.” / “Linseedy.”
“I love processed peanut butter!”
“Hershey’s Kisses smell like vomit.”
“I’m lactose intolerant. Can I have vodka as my palate cleanser?”
Sole Winner of Challenge
Shawnsation (a.k.a. “Keylime”) correctly guessed that the Whole Foods PB was the priciest.
1 Peanutality: overarching
sense of peanuttiness.
2 Jaunt Factor: sense of giddiness and/or hyperactivity elicited by top notch peanut butter.
Yesterday was World AIDS Day. Five Columbus organizations (AIDS Resource Center Ohio, Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center, Stonewall Columbus, Ohio AIDS Coalition, and Columbus Public Health) collaborated to host a silent memorial flash mob at last night’s bustling Short North Holiday Hop. As we walked up and down High Street carrying red glow sticks, we honored those who live with HIV/AIDS and remembered those who have died from it. This was one small event among thousands that were held across the globe, but it shared the same goals: to raise awareness, promote access to treatment, celebrate prevention services, and advocate an AIDS-free future. It was a memorable show of support that I won’t soon forget.
Bullying is not an easy subject, but thankfully it has been getting lots of global attention. You Will Rise Project hosted a student art exhibit yesterday at Columbus Museum of Art, with pieces by 11 Columbus students aged 11 to 17 who have been victims of bullying. The multimedia display was as haunting and raw as it was uplifting. Each student spent several weeks embracing and releasing their innermost creative spirits with local artist volunteers. Here are some excerpts from the student bios, taken from the event program:
“People would attack me with words…I actually tried to commit suicide. My parents got me help and moved me to a very accepting school. I discovered art and it helped me get out of that dark place where I thought I wasn’t good enough.”
“I started getting bullied in the third grade. Then in sixth grade I started cutting myself. [In] seventh grade I finally tried to commit suicide…I finally found a healthy way to deal with my pain in art.”
“Art saved me…I was bullied because I am an art kid and I didn’t fit in at the other schools I went to…I have now begun to discover myself in my new accepting school that has a zero tolerance for bullying.”
To me, constructive and empowering efforts like these can help save the world. Click here for more photos.
There are hundreds of things to love about Hocking Hills. One of them is that it’s out of cell phone and Wi-Fi range. You can travel to cities all over the world and stay plugged in, but an hour southeast of Columbus there’s no choice but to unwind. We recently hit the hills for three precious days and left our laptops at home. Yes, at home. During our stay, we:
Roamed for miles at Cedar Falls and Conkle’s Hollow.
Embraced the stillness of Rose Lake.
Journeyed through the past at the Logan Antique Mall.
Used every chance to gaze at stars.
Visited the Pencil Sharpener Museum.
Echoed our voices through the walls of Rock House.
Nestled by the fire with 40s crime novels.
Ate fried bananas and played Scrabble.
Talked to horses and laughed at woodpeckers.
Enjoyed breathing crisp air.
Discovered a Civil War cemetery along a quiet road.
So much can happen when you trade life’s bustle for the rustling of leaves.
At last night’s Spirit Day candlelight vigil in Goodale Park, a couple hundred community members came out to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who have taken their lives or been severely impacted by bullying. It was hosted by Stonewall Columbus in honor of Bullying Prevention Month. Passionate speakers including Karla Rothan, Paul Richmond, Linda Regula, Tayo Clyburn, and Kaleidoscope Youth Center inspired us with tales of resilience and visions of a violence-free world. The You Will Rise Project, created by Richmond and Regula, will present an exhibition of artwork by high school students who have been affected by bullying on November 18 at the Columbus Museum of Art.
Today is Spirit Day. It has been reported that up to 77% of students have been victimized by some form of bullying. If you know any young people who have been teased, scorned, or belittled, consider reaching out to them. Offer a reminder that it gets better. Bullying is real and it’s ugly, but love is stronger than hate, and together we can overcome it.
Click here for more photos.
We often hear about programs that benefit the community. Last night at the first annual Short Stop Youth Center Open House, I experienced one that changes it. Children performed monologues from The Wizard of Oz, and the youth band performed such numbers as Seven Nation Army and Somebody That I Used to Know. Mentors spoke passionately about impacting young people’s lives through the arts. The air hummed with creativity and empowerment.
Short Stop is a free after-school program in the Short North for kids aged 7-18, offering activities in theater, art, music, dance, homework help, healthy eating, and drug/alcohol prevention. It’s open Monday to Friday from 2:30 to 8:00 p.m. There are currently 25 children enrolled at the center, which receives funding from United Way of Central Ohio and ADAMH, but it can accommodate more. The group is hosting a free haunted house on October 30.
Click here for more photos.
The eighth annual Craftin’ Outlaws alternative craft fair takes place on Saturday, November 17 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Gateway Film Center. Admission is free and all ages are welcome. Modern handmade goods from more than 50 Midwest vendors will be for sale, including clothing, jewelry, paintings, posters, ceramics, knitted accessories, stuffed animals, soap, stationery, skateboards, and home décor. Early Bird Passes (for shopping access from 10:00 to 11:00) can be purchased online or at the show for $5. Early Bird shoppers will be invited to participate in an Early Bird Raffle, the proceeds of which benefit Project: Zero Ohio.
“At Craftin’ Outlaws, you’ll find gifts that you can’t just get at a mall,” said Megan Green, Craftin’ Outlaws lead organizer and Owner of Stinkybomb Soap. “Each one tells a handmade story.”
Courtesy of Jessica Miller Photography.
Ten years ago this month, I wrote a story for Discover Ohio Magazine about 10 haunted places in Ohio. These are the sites I profiled. Have fun, ghost hunters.
Twin City Opera House
The stage floor of the Twin City Opera House (formerly known as The McConnelsville Opera House) used to have trap doors that led to an underground dressing room, allowing performers to leave the building unseen. Its tunnels linked to other places in the village, and were said to have helped conceal slaves who fled the South during the Civil War. They say one of the building’s ghosts is the spirit of Everitt Miller, who ushered there for more than 30 years. Known for his crisp white suits, he still apparently hovers over the aisles of his beloved hall. Dozens of people have reported seeing the “man in white.”
Courtesy of Lost & Found Ohio.
Lafayette Hotel (Marietta)
Another spirit that allegedly still likes to stick around is that of S. Durward Hoag, former owner of the Lafayette Hotel. Overlooking the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, the hotel is said to have a “phantom elevator” that ascends and descends on its own, a possessed light bulb in the Gun Room restaurant, and coffee cups with a mind of their own. Several employees admitted having paranormal experiences on the third floor.
Courtesy of Hidden Marietta.
Fulton County Historical Museum (Wauseon)
The Fulton County Historical Musuem was both a high school and hospital back in the day, and psychics like contacting its young ghost “Little Johnny White.” A past curator said that Johnny once removed all of the Christmas tree ornaments and lined them up on the floor, one by one. Several people who grew up in the area claimed to see the spirit of an elderly woman clad in Victorian garb glaring at them from an upstairs window. Even though the building doesn’t allow smoking or display fresh flowers, some visitors have reported pungent smells of fresh bouquets and pipe tobacco.
Courtesy of Fulton County Historical Museum.
Wilson Hall, Ohio University (Athens)
Athens has been called the most haunted place in Ohio. Its surrounding hills are peppered with family cemeteries, including Simms, Hanning, Cuckler, Higgins, and Zion, which are said to form a pentagon. According to pagan beliefs, a pentagon offers a protective force, the center of which is exempt from any paranormal activity. Wilson Hall in Ohio University’s West Green is supposedly the center of the pentagon.
Courtesy of Ohio University.
Hammel House Inn (Waynesville)
Built atop a prehistoric Indian burial ground, Waynesville is “The Antiques Capital of the Midwest” and host of the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival. But the Hammel House Inn was more than just a friendly stagecoach stop. As legend has it, the innkeeper killed a young traveling salesman in 1823 while he slept and stole gold coins from his saddlebag. The victim’s body is believed to be buried on site, and some guests have claimed to see a wispy white figure lurking on the stairway, flicking the basement storeroom lights.
Courtesy of Museum at the Friends Home.
Memorial Hall (Dayton)
Memorial Hall is a Civil War monument that once housed the Dayton Philharmonic. More than 50 years ago, a stagehand fell into the orchestra pit and died. According to reports, he’s still lingering and has been linked to tales of cold bursts of air, flushing toilets, errant spotlights, and flickering stage lights.
Courtesy of route40.net.
Squire’s Castle (Cleveland)
A red light allegedly shines at Squire’s Castle in the North Chagrin Reservation. This mini castle was built by oil pioneer Feargus B. Squire at the turn of the 20th century. As the story goes, Squire’s wife developed a nasty bout of insomnia. One night during a bout of sleeplessness, she suffered a fatal fall on her way to the basement library. Even though the basement has been filled in, visitors have claimed to see the spirit of Squire’s wife gliding through the castle with a scarlet lantern.
Edison Birthplace Museum (Milan)
Built in 1841, the Edison Birthplace Museum has caused a few spine shivers for its unexplainable, unidentifiable noises. Thomas Edison’s father Samuel supposedly believed in ghosts and held a few séances there. Throughout the years, people have claimed to sense paranormal activity and hear spooky noises in the house.
Thurber House (Columbus)
Eerie noises weren’t considered strange at the Thurber House, where James Thurber grew up. Sounds of empty chairs scraping across the floor, books falling off shelves, and footsteps running up stairs were common occurrences. In 1912, Thurber reportedly saw the ghost of a previous male tenant who, upon learning of his wife’s infidelity, ran up the stairs and shot himself. Several families later moved out of the house to escape the apparition, but Thurber immortalized his encounter in The Night the Ghost Got In.
Brent Turner, courtesy of Thurber House.
I used to be afraid of cemeteries. Growing up, I abided the Honorary Kid Code by holding my breath every time I passed one. Then someone suggested that I tour Green Lawn Cemetery. It took me five months to warm up to the idea.
On Thursday, I headed west on Greenlawn Avenue through the grand cemetery gates and landed in a world of legends and splendor that instantly struck me to the core. I met my tour guide Sandi Latimer, who has volunteered at Green Lawn for the past decade, and we set off in her car to meander the enchanted forest.
“This is beautiful. It’s just so beautiful,” I kept muttering.
Sandi nodded at me knowingly. She’s uncannily passionate about Ohio history, and about the history of everything in general. Like Green Lawn’s lioness, she unlocked the mystical secrets of all 360 of its acres, and meticulously answered my questions. All 97 of them. She is, quite simply, the perfect tour guide.
Founded in 1848, Green Lawn is Ohio’s second largest cemetery. It’s laid out like a Victorian rural cemetery, with 3,000 trees (including four state champions) and endless rolling hills. More than 200 species of birds have been sighted there, making it a hot birding destination. Basically, Green Lawn is a big, beautiful park. It has joggers and dog walkers, and it even recently hosted an eight-year-old’s birthday celebration.
“It’s like all of these amazing people from history are here together, having a big party,” I blurted.
Now, I can’t tell you why I said that. People buried in a cemetery having a party? I was so unhinged by the overall sense of majesty and tranquility that it just came out. And that’s when I started to get star struck. Because among Green Lawn’s 151,000 inhabitants are some very notable people. Thurber. Neil. Sullivant. Rickenbacker. Dennison. Lazarus. Hubbard.
“Oh my God, is that Lincoln Goodale?” I shrieked as I jumped out of Sandi’s (still moving) car.
“Yes, it is,” she smiled.
I sprinted to Dr. Goodale’s grave like it was going somewhere. Oh, the million times I would thank him for giving us the best park in the world. We ventured forth to the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II areas. We stopped by the oldest grave, belonging to Dr. Benjamin Gard, who died of cholera in 1849 after treating cholera patients at the Ohio Penitentiary. We visited the popular toy-adorned gravesite of George Blount, who died in 1873 at the age of five, after sliding down the banister and crashing into his family’s potbellied stove. We marveled at the Tiffany stained glass windows and mosaic murals inside of Huntington Chapel, which was built in 1902. I saw the grave of a man who rode with Wyatt Earp’s posse in the 1880’s, and of the woman who co-founded my alma mater in 1898. I learned that several relatives of prominent people are buried at Green Lawn, like George Armstrong Custer’s half-brother, Harvey Firestone’s cousin, George W. Bush’s great grandfather, J.C. Penney’s brother, and Woodrow Wilson’s grandparents. Above all else, I discovered that cemeteries can be resoundingly full of life.
Green Lawn Cemetery is open seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. April through October, and 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. November through March. It hosts tours, First Saturday programs, and monthly bird walks, and has ongoing volunteer opportunities.
When I moved to Columbus 22 years ago, I learned something key: In the land of Ohio State football, one either bleeds scarlet and gray or goes home. I found out about this thing called “tailgating,” where people set up compact parking lot parties and eat toothpicked meatballs out of contraptions called “crock pots.” I began wearing necklaces fashioned out of poisonous nuts, and obediently matched every bellowed “O-H!” with an equally boisterous “I-O!” But after attending the season opening Buckeye game against Miami University (Ohio) on Saturday, I learned that some of OSU football’s most memorable moments happen between plays.
1. Urban Meyer is a big deal. Like, bigger than Santa Claus, President Obama, and Lady Gaga combined. I had a hunch this was the case, but when our new coach jogged onto the field for the first time, I thought all 105,039 of us at Ohio Stadium had enough emotional voltage to power Cedar Point for a year.
2. The raising and lowering of the American flag, heroically performed by Ohio military personnel, is an unbelievably profound and respectful ceremonial ritual. This was the first time I got to see it up close, and I’ll never forget it.
3. Touchdown push-ups, also executed by local members of the U.S. Military, are crazy impressive. I can’t even do one push-up, so the 252 they did after we beat the Red Hawks 56-10 blew my freaking mind.
4. The Ohio State Marching Band, a.k.a. The Best Damn Band In The Land, plays opponents’ fight songs in their honor. At the end of the game, after the crowd left and a few stragglers were hanging on, TBDBITL marched in formation at the middle of the field and played Miami’s fight song in front of the visiting band. I may have fought back a tear.
5. After home games, spectators can stand by the southeast gates of the stadium to catch a glimpse of star players exiting the building. When I got wind of this, I made the hubs wait with me for an hour so I could see Braxton Miller in person for 8.4 seconds. We also saw more armed servicemen and women, who were chatting with and posing for photographs alongside top players. OSU Athletics has a program that helps military personnel meet members of the team. We talked to one of them who is being deployed this week and was thrilled to have that experience.
Although Ohio State fans are sometimes nuts1, what happens just off the field can underlie the purest meaning of sportsmanship.
1 Yup. Went there.
Courtesy of Warner Brothers.
The expression on my face reflected against the laptop screen was a little embarrassing. Thankfully I was alone. Staring back at me in the blank screen between episodes was a teary, goofy mishmash of joy and catharsis. I didn’t know I could even contort my face like that.
Gilmore Girls took over entered my life a few weeks ago when a dear friend dropped off the first season at my house. Like any respectable dealer, she started casually. I was hooked during the opening credits of the pilot and plowed through season one faster than you can down a glass of Nesquik. As anticipated, I begged her for seasons two and three and will reach the seventh by Labor Day if I keep it up.
There are many reasons why I’m smitten with this show. It follows the lives of independent, freethinking women1. It has love triangles2. It takes place in Connecticut3. It features a private high school with uniforms4. It’s almost always fall5. There’s a lot of candy, cake, and pie6. Obscure music references abound7. Melissa McCarthy is in it8. It entertains me yet inspires me to appreciate and improve upon the relationships in my own life.
My husband isn’t allowed in the room when I watch GiGi. Only the cat. This is a sacred viewing experience that mustn’t be marred by the judgments (or perceived judgments) of those who don’t share XX chromosomes. I don’t always nail a “No boys allowed” sign to my door, but when I do it’s for Gilmore Girls.
1 Score. A million times score.
2 Show me a girl who doesn’t like a good love triangle, and I’ll show you a short giraffe.
3 I lived there.
4 I went to one of those.
5 There’s fall and there are the other 275 days of the year.
6 Hi, three food groups.
7 Have we met?